Teaching you to embrace today while making yourself a millionaire!

I wish I would have understood how easy it is to become a millionaire by starting to save small amounts of money when I was younger...

I feel compelled to share the simple concepts you can apply today....


31 December 2008

End of Year Thoughts........

As I look back on 2008 - it has been a year of extreme highs and extreme lows. The common theme has been growth through my experiences.

My year started by pulling my back and waking up on January 1st - in sister had a major relationship break up and was pretty distraught - and my cube mate was in a funk because all her friends were getting married and talking about kids - (not her goal for now). We all needed a change so -- my brilliant idea -- start the new year over in Hong Kong for Chinese New Year in February. We found a very inexpensive package and the three of us flew half way around the world for 5 days to bring in the New Year again!

This was a pinnacle point for all of us. For me it cleared my mind and was the beginning of Generation Millionaire and making major life changes and taking risks. For my sister - it was a moment of taking control of her life and moving forward instead of dwelling on what she missed - by walking away from the situation - it provided space for both of them. It gave her strength and it gave him the space to miss her. Long story short they are now living in Virginia and very happy, for my cube mate - it opened up a whole new world for her. It was her first international trip and she is a changed person. The experience opened her eyes and mind. She has found a new group of friends that are more in line with her goals and is dating a guy who lives in Germany! They skype every week and meet in exciting new places.

By not getting stuck and being open to starting our new year over - we created fun out of a low energy situation and turned it into opportunity for all three of us. Turn the stories off in your head and do something for yourself.

My cousin (who is more like a sister to me) had a very difficult year - her husband (age 52) died in March and her only son was killed in an automobile/motorcycle accident in June. The enormity of this crisis can never be explained - but her will to go on is inspiring. She is very sad but keeps finding projects that help others - it will be a long road for her and us, but I can see significant changes in her choices and what is important (not sweating the small stuff) and think down the road she will be taking that grief and sharing with others- maybe speaking at High Schools or writing a book.

This experience was a turning point for me. I reevaluated many choices in my life and realized I needed to realign where my time and energy was going. I was in a job that had wonderful benefits and paid well but was not fulfilling - it was draining me - I would come home and watch TV, not participate much in outside activities and was kinda edgy with my husband and parents. I kept staying in the job because it provided financial security but I realized that was all. In the mean time, I saw Marcus Buckingham on Oprah and he was talking about finding your passion - and at the same time I was in a book group reading "A New Earth" from Eckhart Tolle. The country went into financial crisis and my son called and requested I speak at his Fraternity. They wanted to understand the basics of money and what to do. At this point it was decided that my new path was going to be public speaking to any young person that would listen. So spread the word -

Life is made up of choices - are you happy with yours???

Stay tuned............

28 December 2008

2009 Year of Awareness

Well, it is that time of the year - winding down from the holidays, reviewing the past year - and planning for the new year. Are you happy with your life, health, job, relationships, growth, education, finances - and if not what are you going to do about it in 2009?

If you segment your life you will have a harder time achieving your goals. That is why diets rarely work - people are focused on a number verses their overall health and taking care of their body. It is always easier if you look at all areas of your life as a whole. How does this work with money?? We look at money as an instant way to get what we think we want. We are very impulse driven from the marketing we are surrounded by - and it has not been our culture to discuss planning and discipline.

When setting up a budget - it is not just about the money - think about lifestyle, what do you enjoy doing, short term savings, mid term and retirement- so when you are about to have an impulse buy - you can stop and see how it will affect your total picture.

By not following my plan - this purchase may affect my health - I will have additional stress down the road by not having the money I will need for ........, or bill collectors will be calling........., I will have to work additional years to have enough money to retire........., the $50 dollars I am spending today would be worth $5000 dollars in retirement...... etc. This is what the marketers are fearing - that you will take control of your mind and live a balanced life.

What is the main reason people do things they don't want to do?

The Law of Dissonance states that people will naturally act in a manner that is consistent with their 'cognitions,' meaning their beliefs, attitudes, and values," says Mortensen. "When people behave in a manner that is inconsistent with these cognitions, they find themselves in a state of discomfort, or dissonance."In other words, they feel awkward, uncomfortable, unsettled, disturbed, upset, nervous, or confused. "We will do everything possible to get rid of that tension, even if it means doing something we don't want to do," Mortensen says. An example: If you've ever contributed to a cause you didn't really care about because someone made you feel stingy, heartless, or both about not giving, you've experienced the Law of Dissonance in action. Likewise, if you've ever backed a boss's or coworker's half-baked proposal because he or she made you feel guilty (disloyal, uncooperative, stubborn) if you didn't - there's the Law of Dissonance again.

When making a buying decision, what percent takes place in a person's subconscious mind?
"Ninety-five percent of persuasion and influence involves a subconscious trigger. Thoughts like 'It just feels right,' 'I trust this person,' or 'I don't like this person' are all based on subconscious emotional reactions," says Mortensen. "Great persuaders know and understand the power of subconscious triggers."

2009 will be the year of awareness. Everything is connected - work on a life plan vs a To Do list. Come from a positive perspective and not what you did poorly last year. I believe you will be surprised at how much easier it is to accomplish your goals when you come from this perspective vs a laundry list of unrelated issues.

Stay tuned........

23 December 2008

Pets - Can You Afford One?

Pets - adorable, cuddly, cute, slithery, skittish, and lovable. During the holidays many of you will receive a pet as a gift or decide it is time to add a new member to your homes. I am a huge animal lover and we have had numerous pets through the years. If you decide to add a pet to your family - realize it is a financial commitment and you need to be able to afford to take care of all the animals needs, it is also a lifestyle decision and changes will have to be made in your life to take care of them. Whatever pet you pick - enjoy and have fun.

My tips as you pick a pet...

1. Think of your lifestyle - Dogs as wonderful as they are they take alot of commitment. You have to make sure you schedule your life around taking care of them. They need to be let out and exercised on a regular basis. Depending on the size they can be quite expensive to feed, need training and remember to consider cost of vet bills. If treated well and trained - can be a life long friend.

2. Cats have a bad rap as being independent and not very social. This has not been our experience. Our cats are very cuddly and want to be a part of EVERYTHING we do! Before deciding on a cat - again you need to consider your lifestyle. They are less work on a daily basis than a dog as they have litter boxes and you can leave food/water for them for a few days if necessary. The cost of food and vet bills need to be considered. Cats will play and lay in your lap and love to be petted. They become very attached to their owners.

3. Hermit crabs, snakes, spiders, lizards etc are interesting pets. Make sure you understand the environment they need to live in and what to feed them.

4. Hamsters, gerbils, and guinea pigs are pretty low maintenance - however if you don't keep the cages clean - it will smell and obviously is not good for the animal. Their life expectancy is shorter than dogs and cats - so consider that as well. Hamsters and gerbils live to escape - love running on a wheel and are skittish. Guinea pigs love to be held and snuggle and are less active.

If you have more than one pet make sure they are compatible. Also, please be responsible get the appropriate shots and have your animals spayed and neutered - there are millions of animals without homes and we do not need to add to that problem. Most shelters will assist with the cost.

Pets can add such joy and happiness to your life - enjoy!

Stay tuned.......

21 December 2008

Holiday Travel and Thoughts.........

As many of you know I have been spending most of time in Cleveland with family members due to a tragic loss of my cousin's husband and son. Talk about a wake up call to live your life and appreciate people everyday! In a split second your entire life can change.

So while traveling home this weekend I was delayed in the airport for an additional 5 hours. While waiting for my plane to arrive I visited with many people as they waited as well.
It was very interesting that not one person talked about gifts, what they wanted or how much they had. All the conversations revolved around family, memories, being together and wanting to arrive safely.

One grandmother talked about her three grandchildren sleeping in the same room with her when she visited. Two in sleeping bags on the floor and one in the bed with her - she couldn't wait to get to her daughters house for a giant hug.

A solider returning from boot camp couldn't wait to sleep in his own bed and be with family. He was disappointed he wouldn't see his father but thrilled to see his mom.

A guy had been trying to get to Philadelphia for 2 days and was excited when his plane arrived - he was going to see his brother for the holiday.

One girl was heading home from college - she couldn't wait to get home for her mom's home cooking and play games with her family.

Story after story - all people wanted was to go home, feel safe, be with people they loved and cherish the feeling of the holidays. The gifts will be nice but I guarantee you if I run into them in an airport next year - it is not what we will be talking about!

Stay tuned.......

20 December 2008

The Power of Less.....

I love the title of this book and am looking forward to the release on Dec 30th. Leo Babauta's new webpage will have a 30 day challenge starting Jan 1st - each challenge will take less than 10 minutes and can help transform many areas of your life.

For the past 5 years my family and I start the New Year by reflecting on our lives and what areas we would like growth in the upcoming year. I break my thoughts down into 5 categories: Spiritual, Relationships, My Health, Financial and Personal Growth.

Spiritual can be anything from noticing the sunrise on my way to work, regular meditation, attending formalized religious services, being in the moment vs worrying about past or future.

Relationships - how am I treating the people I love the most, who do I want to spend more time with and reprioritize my choices, review friendships, and most importantly how am I treating myself.

My Health - goals for this year - exercise on a regular basis, lose 10 pounds, floss on a regular basis, cut back on sugar and eliminate caffeine - schedule all routine exams. How often am I laughing or am I getting to serious --

Financial - review big picture. Any large purchases needed i.e. roofs, cars etc, Make adjustments in budget for income changes from previous year, Continue to pay ourselves first in 401k and IRA, Extra payments on house or start new business etc. Donations who are we going to support this year and how much.

Personal Growth can be from reading an additional book a month, to practicing for a marathon, volunteering, travel, uncommitting yourself if you are over committed, learning a new skill, taking a class, jumping out of an airplane ---- something new - something that will stretch you and make you a little uncomfortable.

For me this all ties together they are not separate categories I am always trying to look at all areas of my life as a spiritual practice - so taking care of my physical health is not something I have on a list - it is an activity I do and gain insight into my health, my mental endurance, my ability to be in the moment etc. It is amazing how I have transformed my life being more aware of my choices and actions. I look back over the past 5 years of New Years thoughts and goals and by consciously making little changes over time I have learned to embrace life everyday.

Stay tuned........

16 December 2008

If I Haven't Convinced You Yet.....

I have posted many times on the merits of long term savings and how time is your greatest asset. Here is another perspective of Time and Investing.....

•Save $3000 a year from age 30 to 70 = $800,000
•Save $3000 a year from age 20 to 30 = $1,000,000
•Figuring an 8% return in a well allocated portfolio

The person who starts at age 20 and saves for only 10 years and never adds another dollar will have more money than the person who starts saving at age 30 and continues to save for 40 years. Time is your biggest asset because of the compounding effects over time.

In a previous post I talked about T Rowe Price having an IRA account you can start for only $50 dollars a month on an automatic account builder. Something is always better than nothing in savings. Make a commitment today to use this time wisely.

Trust me if all the baby boomers could click their heels and do something different in their lives this would be in the top choices.

Stay tuned..........

14 December 2008

Financial - Plugging the Leaks....

Many college students and recent graduates are renting homes and most of the homes are older, not well insulated and are costing you extra money. I was just talking with a a recent graduate who is renting a home in the suburbs with three other young professionals. Things were going very smoothly until their first gas bill arrived. It was much higher than expected - so we started talking about ways to reduce costs. I found a great article on consumer reports with tips for cutting energy costs.

The energy leaks are very apparent to us when we receive a bill but do you realize money is leaking from your wallet everyday. Not using coupons when shopping, not looking for sales on products you use regularly, gas prices varying from corner to corner, cell phone packages using more or less minutes, paying interest on credit cards, and fees on checking/savings accounts to name a few. Yahoo Fiance listed six sites for managing your money. There are many tools available the trick is to find the one that fits your style and stick with it.
I also love the web page - it is a free subscription and you can watch TV shows and movies. Another cost saving idea and you don't have to leave home to pick it up.

Stay tuned.......

12 December 2008

Financial Friday - Auto Bailout

Wow, As disgusted as I am with the American Automakers - the reality of the bailout bill not passing again is frightening. Is it time to let them fail and see what and who comes up with new ideas and new industries? (see previous post).

I was a new driver during the last energy crisis in the 70's and remember all the talk of creating more fuel efficient cars, looking at alternative ways to design cars - well 30 years and a few bailouts later the automakers are in the same place. While foreign automakers have created a better product, better efficiency, leading in the hybrid market and not having to pull on the heart strings of buy American to sell their products. When in reality most foreign cars are made on American soil with American workers. So what do we do?
Through my adult years many industries have faded and or revamped their business to keep up with technology and or changes in lifestyle. A few that come to mind..... typewriters, 10 key cash registers, slide rules (for those of you who haven't heard of this - it is what we used before calculators), hair dryers, wall telephones, long distance, phone cards, cell phones, cooking appliances and how we prepare food, remote controls, cassette tapes, 8 tracks, cds, dvds, energy efficient appliances and windows, music systems, hand written letters, email, instant messaging, twitter, Internet shopping. Seth Godin is an agent of change his book Tribes gives great direction on thinking outside the box and creating change with passion.

This list is just in the last 30 years and I literally thought for less than 3 minutes. Where have the brilliant minds of the Auto Industry been while all this was going on? My concern is all the millions of individuals who once again went to work and did their job only to be the ones hurt by the greed and short sightedness of their leaders

Stay tuned.........

11 December 2008

What Idea Do You Have?

I just read a great article on Inc. Com - The Entrepreneurial Generation The Gen Y Spin on Start ups.

The article talks about creative solutions to some age old issues. This generation is looking at existing products and services and revamping them to a much more user friendly format. Without all the baggage of a corporation they think through what services they are really want. A great example is Aaron Patzer found Quicken and Microsoft Money boring and not meeting his financial needs. He found them to be tedious and complicated to set up - then after all that still did not track his spending accurately. So he designed a product that tracks his money accurately, tells him when his bank account is low, when his credit card is due to name a few of the features.

The article lists other very inventive ideas - read through it and think about your life. What things do you and your friends complain about - can you improve, simplify or redesign the concept?? There are many frustrated consumers looking for the next big idea....

Stay tuned.......

10 December 2008

Your Financial Future Can Be in the Black!!

Fortune spoke 8 of the sharpest financial minds and they say the future is grim. My hope is that the only debt you have is student loans and using the money wisely.

If you have credit card debt - please get a plan to pay it off. The first step is to stop using the card. Get on a cash only system. I actually heard about people that put their credit cards in a zip lock baggie filled it with water and put it in the freezer. The ultimate credit freeze!

If you can pick up a few extra hours at work. ask for cash for the holiday, what have you purchased recently can it be returned - did you really need it? The book Million bucks by 30 Alan Corey talks about some extreme ways he saved money. Add a roommate for rent and to split the utilities, play games at home vs going out to a movie, well he didn't buy or do much - however, he did reach his goal and this set him up for options. Mental and Financial freedom by exercising discipline for a few years. Zen Habits -The 12 step Get out of Debt Program provides a guide to get started.

If you make good financial choices now - your future will be much more secure. Learn from the mistakes of others and unfortunately they are everywhere. Drive down any street and see all the houses in foreclosure, business closings, look at the headlines - banks in distress, automakers need a bailout - the government is trillions of dollars in debt. Don't make these mistakes - live within your means - actually under them and save for your future. Save for things you really want so when you can actually pay for it - it is exciting.

Your financial life will never be simpler than as a college student. If you create good habits now and priorities - you can avoid the pitfalls of debt, stress and over indulgence.

Grab a pad of paper and write down every time you spend money - you will be amazed at the hundreds of dollars that slip through your fingers without a thought. Being aware is the first step to making a change.

Stay tuned............

07 December 2008

Holiday Gift Idea For You!

This year for the Holidays ask everyone for cash to start an IRA.

For young adults this couldn't be a better time. The market is low and you have time. All you have to do is ACT! What are you waiting for?

T Rowe Price has an account you can start for $50 a month or $1000. If you go with the automatic account builder it will help you make small changes so you can continue to contribute every month. We are talking $12.50 a week. One less fast food meal and speciality coffee a week - will start to build you wealth and security.

Basic Rules for Investing in an IRA.

1 Need earned income

2. 2008 limit $5000, if over age 50 $6000

3. Can not contribute more that you earn

4. 2008 contribution deadline is April 15, 2009

5. Roth IRA is normally the best choice for young investors

6. Investment - research all in one funds/target retirement date

T. Rowe Price gives an excellent data sheet on the differences and eligibility for IRA investing. If you have concerns feel free to comment on the blog and I will be happy to answer your questions.

After much research T Rowe Price had the lowest minimum to get a new investor started. Other discount firms such as Fidelity Investments had a minimum of $200 amount on an automatic account builder and Vanguard had a $3000 minimum. As always check with a financial professional before making an investment decisions. All the above companies have licensed representatives available to answer your questions and assist you. They are all salaried and not on commission. This keeps fees low and the representative from pressuring you into a product you don't need.

As always check with a financial professional prior to making any investment decisions.

Happy Holidays

Stay tuned................

06 December 2008

More Books and Blogs... Winter or Vacation Reading

There are alot of creative individuals and many ways to spend your time and money. I have a friend that swears she will never pay for shampoo again and will never pay more than 25 cents for a tube of name brand tooth paste. She has coupons down to a science - and actually donates many of the items she gets for free.

I know people that recycle everything from bread bags to sour cream containers. I don't mean recycle in the terms we think of today - I mean reuse until it falls apart. Clorox wipes for them is a bucket of water with Lysol and a rag they can wash and reuse. Streak free window washer -not needed - use a newspaper to wash the windows. Messy for you but you get spotless glass.
Now me I have to admit I have gotten soft over the years. Working full time, raising kids, traveling to check on parents and grandparents - it is easy to become part of the disposable society. Well being committed to your generation I will have to make many many changes as I an quitting my full time job to spend all my time trying to educate you. So it will be back to cooking at home the majority of time, clipping coupons, backgammon tournaments at home vs going out to a movie, putting away all credit cards and going to cash only system, using the library all the time, dropping blockbuster mail movies - okay you get the point.

Many people think I am insane giving up a good paying secure job to speak at colleges and universities but I believe knowledge is power and if you have the information - you will make good choices. So in the spirit of my need for change I have a few books and blogs to suggest.
It is amazing how creative people can be - it just takes discipline.

Mary Hunt is a newspaper columnist with a web page/blog - Debt-Proof Living. If you are interested she will send an email everyday with a tip for cheapskate living.

Humorous and fun book by Jeff Yeager. The Ultimate Cheapskate.

A really committed family to living frugal while maintaining a good quality of life turned to NY Times best selling book. America's Cheapest Family.

Freakonomics - A rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything. Chapter 1- Discovering cheating as applied to teachers and sumo wrestlers.

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell is a book about change. Read the Q & A with the author. Society and behavior is always a source of interest.
Lastly, Fire Finance is a blog that lists numerous freebies. It saves you time and if it is a product you could use or donate - it is fun. They also had an interesting blog on a rentometer to see if your paying a reasonable amount for your area. Pretty cool stuff.

I will get back to the different investment options and explain the types of retirement savings options that are available. Time is on your side and with the market down - it is the time to start saving for your future.

Stay tuned.........

05 December 2008

Financial Friday

Once again more of the same, volatile markets, bad economic news, more layoffs and concerns about consumer spending. So rather than dwell on the negative I thought I would give a few links to charities that could use your help this year.

Throughout the years our family has given back to our community in numerous ways, from volunteering at a soup kitchen, walking dogs at a local homeless shelter that housed them, made bags with hats, scarfs, gloves and food for homeless individuals in our area, went to local nursing homes and spent time with the residents that didn't receive many visitors, and went to an orphanage and donated toys. We have also worked with Habitat for Humanity, Cardiostart International and many other groups that reach out to assist others in need. We are very grateful for our health, education, family and friends and believe everyone should be treated with dignity and respect.

Do you have a coat you aren't using? There are many people who could use one.
One Warm Coat will give coats to a person in need free of charge. Click on the link to find a donation drop in your area.

Vietnam Veterans of America will pick up your used clothing, furniture, baby items, shoes, toys and much more. Click on the link and set up a pick up for your non needed items that could change another persons life.

While most of us are thinking about what we want that would make our lives more enriched - there are kids fighting for their lives. St. Judes Children's Research Hospital offers products many are designed by the children and the proceeds go back to St. Judes for research.

One in eight Americans is fighting hunger. Feeding America serves many communities. You can click on the link and at the top of the page click on Find a food bank. If there is one near you they will list food drives and what you can do for your local community.

The Giving Spree is offering the book Santa goes Green for 20% off the list price while donating a portion of the proceeds to Polar Bears International and Habitat for Humanity.

Another idea is watch your local news station throughout the holiday season. They will normally give locations of reputable charities in your area. Be care not to give your credit card number over the telephone as there are many scam artists out at this time of the year.

If you or your family is in need - please accept the help that is available and if you are able to give back - please do. It can be by donating time, talents, recycled items or cash donations.

Stay tuned...........

02 December 2008

I just read a book that I thoroughly enjoyed. It was a very easy read and I felt like I knew the author from his style of writing. I laughed out loud and was amazed at his determination to be a millionaire by 30. His methods may be more extreme than what you are willing to do - however he was so creative in his methods. I love thinking outside the box.

I do suggest going to the library to borrow it and see if it triggers any creative ideas you can incorporate into your life. It is always fun to be challenged and have a moment of inspiration. It is those who are willing to be different that normally achieve their passions.

It is a perfect book for a cold winter day. Hopefully, it will inspire you to make a few more simple changes and continue to reach for your goals.

The book is "A Million Bucks by 30" by Alan Corey.

I would love your thoughts on the book and any recommendations you may have.
Stay tuned.......

01 December 2008

Great Question!

I received a comment asking about IRAs. There are a few good sites that offer education and the opportunity for low cost investing.

Fidelity Investments and T Rowe Price both offer good information on their web pages. They go over eligibility and benefits of both Roth and Traditional IRA.

If you are young and are eligible for the Roth IRA it is a great option. The money will go in after tax (out of your checking account) and will grow tax deferred. As long as you don't withdraw your money prior to 59 .5 years old - all the earnings will be tax free. So if you invest $5000 and it grows to $50,000 then the $45,000 (the earnings) would be tax free.

There are some easy ways to invest that are low cost. Fidelity and T. Rowe Price offer Time Based Funds. The concept is an all in one fund. The fund manager looks at your time frame and will invest the fund in the appropriate amount of stocks vs bonds for your time frame. They will slowly make the fund more conservative as you get closer to your goal. There is no sales charge to get into the fund (if you go directly to the company - not through a broker) - so if you invest $3000 the entire amount will be invested.

For more information on how mutual funds work go to CNN Money - they have a great area on all areas of investing. The Mutual Fund section will explain the different expenses in funds.

Be sure to check with an investment specialist prior to investing. If you call directly to Fidelity Investments, Vanguard or T. Rowe Price they all have licensed Representatives that should be able to answer your questions. To the best of my knowledge they are salaried - not working on commission.

Please keep the questions and comments coming. In the next blog I will go into more detail on retirement savings options.

Stay tuned.......

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